Q & A with 5 Gyres Co-Founder and Mother, Anna Cummins

More Oceans Less Plastic 5 Gyres

As you may have read, we strive to make every day Earth Day. So, throughout April, we’ve been sharing about how Bumbleride families eco in regards to these categories: Gear, Feed, Nursery and Play. By using some of these types of products you can take small steps to reduce your family’s footprint. To further show our commitment to How We Eco, we are donating 1% of April sales to 5 Gyres. The 5 Gyres Institute’s mission is to empower action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, art, education, and adventure. We love that their vision is a planet free of plastic pollution!

 

We talked to Anna Cummins, Co-Founder and Global Strategy Director of the 5 Gyres Institute about founding 5 Gyres, plastic pollution, her recommendations for new parents and more. We thought you’d love what she has to say:

 

Tell us about yourself and why you founded 5 Gyres with your husband Marcus?

Most children are instantly drawn to the outdoors – true in my case. My first love was the creek near my parent’s home in Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, where I spent long hours catching tadpoles, climbing up sewer holes, and starting to notice water quality issues without having a name for it yet.

Years later, during my graduate school years at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, I first learned about plastic in the North Pacific Gyre, and vowed to get more involved. I then met Marcus Eriksen through his work with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, and joined Algalita’s 2008 expedition across the Gyre. This trip sealed the deal for my involvement in plastic pollution  – we saw a significant increase in plastic pollution, and also saw alarming levels of plastic in the stomachs of fish. Halfway into the journey, Marcus proposed with a ring made from derelict fishing gear. I was hooked – literally – and we decided we needed to expand the research and awareness on plastic pollution beyond the North Pacific.

This was the impetus for founding 5 Gyres in 2009, to research plastic in the world’s oceans, and leverage our scientific findings to drive change on land. Thanks to a committed team, and a growing community of ambassadors around the world, we are finding new ways to get our message out!

 

You place a big effort in educating youth about plastic pollution.  Give us some insight on how we can teach our children about the impact of single use plastics.

There are so many ways to engage children about single use plastics – through artwork, stories, films, beach cleanups – but whenever possible, I’d start by bringing children to the nearest waterbody to play. Young people have an innate sense of fascination with the natural world, and when nurtured, this can more easily blossom into a desire to be good stewards. Once this value is supported,  it makes much more sense to talk about what we can do to protect natural resources.

 

Children are also magnetically drawn to animals, so sharing with them positive examples of how they can protect turtles, dolphins, and whales is also a great way to inspire more awareness around single use plastics. Finally, I believe its important to share with them that their voice and actions truly matters – even seemingly small actions can have a ripple effect that in some cases can change policy, and even shift corporate responsibility!

 

How does plastic pollution affect your health?

While it’s difficult to show a direct cause and effect, there is a growing body of research linking chemicals from plastic to a host of health problems – from cancers to early onset puberty to obesity. Plastic products are often made with synthetic additives – “plasticizers” – that can be highly toxic, and have been shown to migrate out of products, and into our food, water, etc. Additionally, plastic particles in the ocean can absorb toxic chemicals such as PCBs and DDT at high concentrations, transferring these chemicals into the tissues of animals through ingestion, and becoming more concentrated as they travel up the food chain.

 

On a personal note, I had my “body burden” analyzed before becoming pregnant – we found trace levels of PCBs, DDT, PFCs and PBDEs in my blood serum – chemicals that I may have passed onto my little daughter through childbirth and breastfeeding. While we don’t know if these chemicals in my body came from plastic, we do know that plastic is one way that certain chemicals can be transported from the environment into our food chain. Much research still remains to show how plastic affects our health. The safest bet to protect your family’s health is to use safer materials like glass, stainless steel, and other “bio-benign” materials that wont expose us to unnecessary risk!

 

How can families decrease their dependence on plastic and foam?

The good news here is that it’s very easy to reduce your “plastic footprint” and go #plasticfree! I find that taking on one big change at a time makes it less daunting, starting with the obvious ones – refusing plastic bags, bottles, and straws. Our Plastic-Free Shopping guide  has great resources and suggestions here to get you going, and I’m a big fan of searching your local Goodwill first! Could your family commit to a week without a plastic bag, a plastic straw, or a plastic bottle? Once you adopt a few simple changes, getting more deeply involved becomes easier!

 

Why is the act of ‘recycling’ not enough?  

While recycling may make us feel like we’re off the hook, unfortunately the truth is much more complicated. Firstly, most of the plastics we “recycle” here in the US are actually being exported overseas to countries where it is cheaper to convert waste into lower grade products, or worse – incinerate or landfill it. Globally, we “recover” a paltry 14% of our plastic packaging, and according to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, only 2% of this is truly recycled in a closed loop fashion. In addition to being a waste of our precious resources, it’s also a tremendous waste of money. We lose an estimated $80-140 billion in plastic packaging that isn’t recovered. The market for recycled plastic products can’t compete with the artificially low cost of oil. And since most plastics are made from fossil fuel feedstocks, herein lies the problem!

Much has been written on this topic – our website has a bit more on the Truth About Recycling here  In short: we teach young children to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. The best thing we can do is reduce our dependence on single use plastics by switching to products that are reusable, or truly recyclable!

 

Please feel free to include any other tips or recommendations for new parents below. 

I remember as a new mom, I agonized over the diaper dilemma, as well as how to raise a “plastic-free baby”. I was thrilled to learn about “Elimination Communication” which took some up front work, but allowed me to get my little one out of diapers a good year and a half earlier than I thought possible! And on other things like baby bottles, toys, etc, I found many safer alternatives – glass, metal, and organic products.

But I think what helped me the most was to try be gentle with myself. Raising a child is hard, albeit joyful work! Finding a network of other new parents who are supportive, and can help us navigate through the morass of information available online was a godsend for me. If anyone wants to chat more about their plastic free baby dilemmas or ideas, we are happy to help!

With more than 20 years experience in environmental non-profit work—including marine conservation, coastal watershed management, community relations, and bilingual and sustainability education—Anna Cummins is an expert in the field. Her “Synthetic Sea, Synthetic Me” TEDx talk has been viewed and shared by thousands. Anna received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, and a MA in Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies.

 

microbeads and nurdles

#HowWeEco – Retailer Spotlight – Sprout San Francisco

At Bumbleride, we strive to make every day Earth Day. We want you to, too. So, throughout the month of April, we will be helping you to make changes in your everyday life by providing content that can help you reduce your carbon footprint. (Bumbleride is also donating 1% of all April sales to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans.)

Our Retailer Spotlight for the month is our friends at Sprout San Francisco.

When you are in need of something for your baby, rest assured that anything you find at Sprout San Francisco has been vetted thoroughly and is safe for you to use with/for/on your children.  Suzanne hand picks only the safest and healthiest products for our children.  She spent several years studying organic products and the impact of toxic chemicals on our bodies.  In addition to her own research, Suzanne regularly consults with industry leaders for their expertise on the latest scientific data, studies and research.

 

We talked to Suzanne Price, CEO and founder of the shop, and thought you’d love what she has to say:

How do you describe your store?

Sprout is a natural and organic children’s boutique. We carry everything you need for children ages 0 – 4 years old in the healthiest materials possible. We have 5 physical locations. We have stores in the Bay Area, Chicago, and Brooklyn. We also have an e-commerce store at www.sproutsanfrancisco.com .

 

What criterion do you have when choosing/vetting products for your store?

Our top priority is health. We are looking to make sure that nothing on the item could offgas or harm the baby. Sometimes “eco” as in recycled, and “healthy” can be at odds if it’s more focused on the environment than toxins in the products. What we look for specifically is different in each category. All of our clothing is made from natural materials, grown without pesticides. Our toys are solid wood or organic cotton plush. In personal care, we avoid anything that can be an endocrine disruptor. In the gear category, our primary concern is flame retardants.

 

Who are the brands that come to mind that lead the industry in eco products?

Two brands immediately come to mind, Plan Toys for toys and Under the Nile for clothing. Both manage to produce products with the highest standards of safe materials, yet they also are able to keep price points attainable. This helps are broader range of customers to be able to bring safe products into their home.

 

Where do you see Bumbleride fitting into the eco scale of things and how/why you chose our products?

I’m proud to carry Bumbleride strollers in my stores.  They adhere to my strict vetting process and I love that the strollers are free of PVC, BPA, Phthalates, Fire Retardants and Polyurethane foam.  Plus, they are diverting plastics from landfills by having 100% rPET fabric and continually evolving with respect to reducing their carbon footprint.

 

What advice do you have for parents looking to lessen their impact on the environment

Don’t get overwhelmed. Do what you can do. Little changes make a difference. You can start by avoiding plastics. Most plastics are not good for your kids to be around, and they hurt the environment as well.

 

Tell us about the events you host at your stores and how they foster community.

At all of our stores we host educational talks and events that range from topics like “how to get your kid to sleep” to “what do I need to know about flame retardant chemicals.” Both on our website and in our stores, we aim to be an educational resource for the communities that we are in. At most of our stores, we also host regular classes like music and baby yoga where, in addition to kids being entertained, parents can get to know each other as well.

Thank you for reading.  We hope this helps you make important decisions for your families health and the environment.

Make sure to visit Sprout San Francisco, sign up for their newsletter and follow them on Instagram.

How We Eco – 1% of April Sales Donated To 5 Gyres

From our founders

As new parents in 2004, our inspiration to create Bumbleride was our need for a stroller that fit the active lifestyle that we wanted to share with our new baby, Ella.  Although there were many options of baby themed prints on plastic wheeled strollers we saw a real lacking in quality, well-designed strollers with modern styling suited to our outdoor life.  Our journey as a family with 3 kids now has allowed us many adventures and our 3 little test pilots have helped us to continuously improve our products.

Over the years, many things have stayed the same.  We still work with the same family owned factory in Taiwan where we focus on small production runs to ensure the highest quality of materials and craftsmanship.  We also more than ever recognize the need for designs that allow parents to get out and explore as a family, whether it be an urban stroll, a mountain trail or sandy beach.

Some things have changed though.  We live in a consumerism society where products are being manufactured at an unprecedented pace. Our inboxes and feeds are full of promotions and offers to buy.  The eternal quest for what’s new, what’s hot though has consequences, environmentally and socially.

At Bumbleride, we have made it our mission to help reduce our impact on the environment by using high quality materials so you have a stroller that will last for your family and can even be passed on to another family.  We also have sourced materials that are free from harmful chemicals so your baby is safe.  We use recycled materials where possible.  Our fabrics are 100% recycled polyester keeping post-consumer water bottles out of our oceans.  We also are exploring ways to reduce the use of fresh water and reduce pollution with an innovative dye process used exclusively on our black colorways.  We know we can do more and we are focused on continuing to look for new innovations that will help us achieve this goal.

 

We appreciate working with like-minded companies who are working hard to reduce their impact on the environment.  This month we are calling attention to those companies in the series “How We Eco”.  Each week one of our Bumbleride families will highlight brands in the following categories: Gear, Feed, Nursery and Play and share our picks from some of the companies that we admire what they are doing for the environment. To show our commitment to this campaign 1% of all Bumbleride sales during the month of April will be donated to an organization to help educate and reduce plastics in our oceans, the 5 Gyres Institute.

-Matthew and Emily Reichardt

How We Eco: PLAY

1) Bumbleride Indie Stroller
color: tourmaline

2) Nuna Pipa Car Seat
color: black

3) Clek Foonf Booster Seat
color: capri (white or black, whatever you think)

4) Guava Family Lotus Crib

5) Bumbleride Mini Board

6) Bumbleride Parent Pack

Celebrate Earth Day April 22nd – 9 Easy Ways For Kids To Rise Above Plastics

beachcleanup

  • Avoid or refuse purchasing items packaged in plastic. Get the kids involved to help look for produce and grocery items that aren’t over-packaged. Plastic inside of plastic? No thanks!

  • Use cloth or re-usable shopping bags. Keeping a bag with you or in your car/purse/or diaper bag is a great way to make sure you use your bags.  One of our favorite companies that makes these is ChicoBag. Some models even fold up into their own pocket to fit in your hand!
    OSBGM-2OSBGM-1
  • Forget bottled water. Plastic bottles are one of the most common pieces of trash found around the world. Carry a reusable canteen wherever you go. Try hooking it onto your stroller if it’s not too heavy or large. Make sure to get one or two for the each of the kids too! Our favorite reusable beverage containers are from Hydroflask and Klean Kanteen .

  • Give up gum. Did you know many types of gum are synthetic and include plastics? Who wants to chew on plastic?

  • Bring a reusable mug when you order hot cocoa, coffee or tea. Office favorites include this kid’s Klean Kanteen and this cup from Hydroflask with a silicone lid. Both work great for everyday, hot or cold.
    KleanKanteen hydro-flask-p16-pacific_2
  • Skip the straw. Straws are almost the #1 piece of trash on beaches, especially near resorts or hotels. If your kids love straws, consider Silikids silicone straw with lid or Simple Straws made of glass or metal.

  • Recycle. If you have to use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Ask you child to help sort which items can be recycled and which are trash or compost.

  • Reusable containers. Our office favorite containers are from Wean Green. We love their Kitchen Set. They are made with tempered glass that is microwave safe and easy to clean.
    WeanGreen
  • Volunteer at a beach cleanup. Most plastics last forever so bring the kids to the beach and help teach them about the responsibility of keeping the beach and our oceans clean for  future generations and how storm drains/urban runoff bring trash and plastic to the beach. This is a favorite among our staff and company. We aim to host a local beach cleanup monthly. Look for a cleanup near you in the US through your local Surfrider Foundation chapter or in Canada, your nearest Shoreline Cleanup or in Hawaii or New Zealand, your nearest Sustainable Coastlines event.

Info Source: Surfrider San Diego and Ryan Willson

Earth Day 2015 is Wednesday, April 22nd

FB-green

For the month of April we’re turning our logos green while we share tips, tricks and recommendations on how to repair or recycle your Bumbleride and how to reduce your family’s plastic use in just a few easy steps. We’ll also be hosting a beach cleanup locally in San Diego, CA. If you have any friends in San Diego please help spread the word, https://www.facebook.com/events/682444778533825/ ! Looking for an Earth Day event near you? We’ve included a listing of a few events below:

New York, NY Earth Day Events

Los Angeles, CA Earth Day Events

San Diego, CA Earth Day Events

  • 4/19 Earth Day Fair at Balboa Park. Make sure to say hi! to the Surfrider Foundation! http://www.earthdayweb.org/
  • 4/22 Bumbleride Beach Cleanup at Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego, CA from 2-4pm. Attend the cleanup with your Bumbleride to receive a free Parent Pack or Snack Pack! Facebook event page here, please RSVP and help spread the word! https://www.facebook.com/events/682444778533825/
  • 4/25  13th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup on Saturday, April 25th from 9AM – 12noon!  I Love A Clean San Diego has a record-breaking 106 countywide locations to choose from, each hosted by a trained site captain who will greet you upon arrival, http://www.creektobay.org/ .

San Francisco, CA Earth Day Events

  • 4/18 Earth Day Fair 2015 –  Featuring Kids acro jump  http://earthday2015.ca/search-an-event/ and https://www.facebook.com/EarthDaySF
  • 4/19 Earth Day Surfrider Beach Cleanup at Ocean Beach, Beach clean-up 9am-12pm. Drop-in and groups. We also encourage participants to bring their own gloves, grabbers, or buckets. Come on down and help save the beach! *Note* rain cancels clean-ups. BBQ at Church of Surf (3830 Noriega Street) to immediately follow the cleanup! http://sf.surfrider.org/calendar-2/
  • 4/25 Surfrider Baker Beach Cleanup – Beach clean-up 10am-12pm. Drop-in and groups. Hot coffee provided. We also encourage participants to bring their own gloves, grabbers, or buckets. Come on down, have a snack, and help save the beach! *Note* rain cancels clean-ups. http://sf.surfrider.org/calendar-2/

Chicago, IL Earth Day Events

Seattle, WA Earth Day Events

 

Canada Earth Day Events

British Columbia Earth Day Events

  • 4/25-4/26 Victoria- Creatively United For The Plaent Earth Festival – This free, fun-filled all-ages festival features live music and entertainment, short films and documentaries, innovative displays, local food, afternoon tea, yoga, children’s activities, art and art-making, electric car and bike displays, massage and healing arts, a silent auction and a locally-sourced organic green dinner and concert, http://creativelyunited.org/festival/ .